Dead Coral Found on Ocean Floor Near BP Oil Spill Site

By: Jennifer Milton Email
By: Jennifer Milton Email

Biologists discover damage to marine life in the deep waters of the Gulf of Mexico and say it could be linked to the BP oil spill.

Scientists say they have found colonies of dead coral about 4600 feet below the Gulf's surface, and just seven miles southwest of the blown out oil well.

Researchers say there is an abundance of data suggesting what happened to the coral is related to Deepwater Horizon incident.

The expedition's chief scientist described what he saw as "an underwater graveyard."

Scientists say coral is essential to maintaining marine life in deep waters by providing a habitat for fish and other creatures, and it could take decades to grow back.

"It's possible that the coral could have died due to the presence of some toxin and this potentially could be dispersant of something related to this, but also, it's unclear at this point what the food source is for these deep water corals but there is evidence that it may be surface derived. So, if the food web were shut off because of the oil spill, this may also cause stress to the deep water corals," said Steve Morey.

At this point, biologists say they can't be certain that the coral dying was related to the oil spill but say the next step is to return to the site to search for direct evidence.

Marine scientists say they have identified 25 other sites in the vicinity of the well where similar damage may have occurred and an expedition is planned for next month for further exploration.

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